Dolphins In Massachusetts: Everything You Need To Know About Them

Last Updated on September 14, 2023 by Amin Tawar

Are there Dolphins in Massachusetts?

Dolphins In Massachusetts
Dolphins In Massachusetts: Everything You Need To Know About Them

There are over a dozen dolphin species inhabited in Massachusetts waters. A few of the commonly seen dolphins are the Atlantic white-sided dolphin, the short-beaked common dolphin, Risso’s dolphins, and the harbor porpoise.

These species can be seen throughout Massachusetts waters bearing the coast of Barnstable, Essex, and Nantucket counties, not necessarily about the shore itself. Sometimes they can also be seen on Jeffries Ledge and Stellwagon Bank, in Cape Cod Bay mainly from July to December, and in in-depth oceans along the boundary of the continental frame. 

Types Of Dolphins in Massachusetts

Here is the list of the most commonly found dolphins in Massachusetts. 

  1. Atlantic Spotted Dolphin

Scientifically known as Stenella frontalis, the Atlantic Spotted Dolphin is around 5.7 feet long, with rounded bodies and stocky torsos. They have dorsal fins and big pectoral. Coloring is usually gray on the back and paler on the belly, with spotting all over.

Though they can be seen in deep water, they are very relaxed when in the shallow waters around the shore and continental frame. They very are playful and curious and will frequently approach people and boats. Unfortunately, this behavior put them at risk of being harmed.

Despite being very playful, their core pods are small and comprise only around 50 individuals. When moving near the shore, the number drops to less than five individuals in a pod. These dolphins consume a wide range of fish and invertebrates. 1

  1. Spinner Dolphin

Calles as Stenella longirostris, the Spinner Dolphins are usually 4 to 7 feet in length streamlined and slim, with a narrow nose. The coloring is beautiful with a light gray belly, lines of pale gray on the sides, and spots of dark gray. 

Spinner Dolphins can be seen in the warmer areas in Massachusetts. Look for them, down to the Hawaiian Islands and on the eastern coast near the Gulf of Mexico. They are extremely confident, acrobatic, and showy when moving on to their hunting time. 

You can see them leaping into the air and executing many complex spinning tricks as they drop back into the water. Their feeding patterns are very different from other dolphins. They catch squid and fish that move closer to the surface during the night. 1

3. Striped Dolphins

These dolphins are 8 to 9 feet long with a huge and robust build, long, slender noses, and small fins. They have a unique color pattern that makes them easy to find. Their light bellies and dark gray rears are emphasized by a bold black stripe that runs from the nose, splits above the eye, and goes down the sides.

Striped Dolphins are very adaptable species. They are mostly seen in tropical, temperate, and subtropical oceans. However, they like deep water and are away from shorelines. You can spot one near the coast when there are underwater canyons that provide deeper habitats. 

They have a close relationship with their pods, made up of over 50 individuals. Occasionally super pods are formed, but not regularly as often as other Massachusetts dolphins. Striped Dolphins seldom interact with other species.1

4. Clymene Dolphin

They are measuring up to 6.5 feet in length with a heavy, thick build. Clymene Dolphins have short noses and curved dorsal fins. They have a dark gray coloring that is interrupted by small white patches.

Clymene Dolphins prefer warm water in the Gulf of Mexico and the southern Atlantic Ocean. These species are elusive, and very little is available about them. This is because they are an offshore species and like to live in deep areas over 16,500 feet 

They mostly feed on squid and small fish, hunting during the night. They do perform aerial shows like other dolphins, jumping out of the air and spinning as they drop. As they are one of the most secretive dolphins in Massachusetts, very little information about them is known. 1

 5. Long-beaked Common Dolphin

Being over 8.5 feet long with a thin build, wide tail, and long fins. The coloring pattern is distinct, with gray markings and yellowish-tan. Their belly is gray, and their body is dark gray. Long-beaked Common Dolphins are seen inhabited in warm areas near the coast in subtropical, temperate, and tropical oceans. 

They hunt in shallow water, making it easier to see when compared to other dolphins in Massachusetts. This species is known to work together to gather schools of fish like anchovies and sardines. They’re also acrobatic and agile swimmers. Dolphin watchers can find near the ships, breaching and leaping into the waves. 1

6. Short-beaked Common Dolphin

Also, called Delphinus Delphi, Short-beaked Common dolphins are over 6 feet long, heavy, and generally small. Their color pattern is distinct, with gray markings and yellowish-tan. These dolphins are abundant and extremely adaptable. 

They inhabit many environments, from cool temperate to tropical seas waters. Sometimes can be seen living offshore, from the continental frame to deep waters. Their habitat liking is different from other dolphin species. 

Short-beaked Common Dolphins can be seen in big pods with thousands of individuals in a single pod. They are also very confident and social around huge boats and whales. You’re likely to find one when riding or surfing. 1

7. Common Bottlenose Dolphin

Over 13 feet long with a strong, curved body and heavy build. The Common Bottlenose Dolphin has a pale gray belly and dark gray back. This depends on the temperature of the water, as cooler-water inhabitants are darker. These species form a small pod with less than 20 individuals.

They can be seen in a broad range of environments. A few live in colder waters that are far offshore, but they confidently move into bays, harbors, and estuaries near the coastline. Bottlenose Dolphins are easy to spot near beaches and boats because they have a boisterous nature. They are very social and playful with other species, including whales. 1

8. Rough-toothed Dolphin

Scientifically known as Steno bredanensis, Rough-toothed dolphins are 8.5 feet in length, with a thin, streamlined body. Their fins are curved and tall and have long noses. Overall they have a dark correlation with white bellies and spots on the nose. They feed on squid and fish like other dolphins but are highly skilled at hunting bigger fish.

Rough-toothed Dolphins like warmer water, but as they’re pelagic, they live far away from the coast that is over 3,280 feet deep. They are less playful and showy than other dolphins. Instead, they utilize their energy for acceleration, surfacing with a slight skimming movement. 1

9. Harbor Porpoise

Measuring up to 5.5 feet, the Harbor Porpoise has a blunt nose and rounded head, the Harbor Porpoise. They have triangular fins with small, curved bodies. Their back is gray, with a white belly and light gray sides.  

Harbor Porpoises are shyer and reserved, thus they are not showy. They are usually in tiny pods of less than 5 individuals. They can be seen in shallow, remote coastal areas. As they are not active, their proximity to the shore is close, so you can easily spot them in harbors and bays along the coast. 1

Where Can You See Dolphins In Massachusetts?

Dolphins In Massachusetts
Dolphins In Massachusetts: Everything You Need To Know About Them

Most of the dolphins in Massachusetts waters are found in the North Atlantic Ocean, which has warm and cooler waters. Atlantic white-sided dolphins can be seen in colder waters of the Atlantic Ocean and move according to the seasons. They move north and inshore during the summer months and offshore in the winter. 

The Short-beaked common dolphins can be seen in cool and tropical temperate waters in both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Their habitat not only includes offshore and coastal waters but also enclosed oceans. 

Harbor porpoises can be found in offshore and coastal waters of the North Atlantic, sub-Arctic, and North Pacific. They are frequently seen in shallow waters of estuaries, bays, and tidal channels. 

Also, Check Our Guide On Dolphins In Las Vegas

How Big Are Dolphins in Massachusetts?

The most common dolphin found in Massachusetts waters is the Atlantic white-sided dolphin. This dolphin is slightly bigger than other oceanic dolphins. It is just over a meter long at birth. Male dolphins grow around 9.2 feet and females around 8.2 feet at maturity. Once fully grown, adult male dolphins can weigh anywhere from 400 to 510 lbs. Females attain sexual maturity from 6 to 12 years, and males anywhere from 7 to 11 years. Individuals over 17 years.

Can You Own Dolphins In Massachusetts?

It is not illegal to capture wild dolphins in the United States, even though no permits were provided for capturing one since 1989. Which makes it legal to capture dolphins. But, you must get a permit from the National Marine Fisheries Service. 

The permits to own wild dolphins might be given by NMFS for scientific research, public display, accidental captures by fishermen, and conservation. When an individual wants to capture a dolphin, they must present an application to the NMFS and fulfill the requirements to obtain a permit. The requirements are:

  • The facility should present an education program on acknowledged standards.
  • The facility must be available for public access regularly.
  • An individual can own a marine mammal only if licensed by the Animal Welfare Act.


And that was everything you need to know about the Dolphins in Massachusetts. I hope this article answered all your queries.

Our Source For This Guide 

Scroll to Top